N.J. Teen Sets Fire to Home, Parents Die

Jason Henry Never Fully Explained Why He Set the Lethal Fire

Just after midnight on Feb.13, 2007, a nightmare began to unfold as flames erupted from the house at 1212 Cedar Ave. in Glassboro, N.J.

Jason Henry, 16, stood outside in the shadows, watching silently as his badly burned father, Stefan Edwards, raced out of their home seeking neighbors for help. Henry's mother was still inside.

Michelle Henry, who was suffering from leukemia, finally staggered out, also burned by the blaze. Rescue workers were devastated by what they saw.

Raging Inferno
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"Mr. Edwards has no clothes on. Has burns over 85 percent of his body, third-degree burns. Mrs. Henry, not much better, severe pain, you have rescue personnel working on them, rushing them to the hospital," Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean Dalton told ABC News.

Police spoke to Jason Henry, a honor student and former Boy Scout. Unlike his parents, he was virtually unscathed, with only a burn on his hand.

Police were immediately suspicious, so they took Henry to the police station for questioning.

With his grandmother at his side, Henry told police about how he had helped both his parents to safety. From the tape of the interrogation, it was clear they didn't believe him.

"Your story is not adding up," Glassboro Police Detective Cpl. Dan Williams told him during questioning.

"Like, I'm really not lying or anything at all, that's ..." Henry replied.

"I think you are. … You're able to walk back and forth through this, two, if not three times, and the only injury you sustain is an injury to your hand. OK? It didn't happen," Williams pressed.

But Henry stuck to his story. "Like I said, that's really how it happened."

"Well, I'm saying that I really didn't do it," he continued. "Like you can ask me a million times. I really didn't do it."

Williams told Henry he would ask a million times if he had to. "I know that you did it," he said. "I'd like to find out why."

'I Didn't Do It'

After a long interrogation, Henry suggested his parents may have set the house afire for insurance money.

Eventually, he admitted to pouring gasoline throughout the house.

"I feel so bad that they got hurt. There was no intention of them getting hurt at all," Henry said.

But what seemed a cut-and-dried case suddenly turned a lot more complicated after Henry later recanted, saying police had forced his confession.

"I didn't do it," Henry told his grandmother, Margaret Henry, after the police left the interrogation room, where their conversation was recorded by authorities.

"Why'd you tell them you did?" she asked.

"I, what else was I gonna say?" he replied.

Jason Henry's parents would later die from their severe burns. Henry was charged as an adult, accused of arson and murder. He maintained his innocence.

So what really happened? Which story is true? Did Jason Henry burn his house down killing his parents? Or was the former Boy Scout coerced by police into saying what they wanted to hear? Many in the community backed the boy.

ATF Investigates Cedar Avenue Arson

"He did recant. He did say that he only said that to get out of the interview and then his statement generally was that he didn't do it after that," assistant Gloucester County prosecutor Dana Anton told ABC News. "He stood by that throughout the proceedings. … A lot of people came out and supported him because he said he didn't do it."

Prosecutors decided to bring in forensic examiners from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF.

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